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"..impale the arms of his husband with his own.."
May 6, 2014 12:21 PM   Subscribe


 
being placed on the dexter side of the shield or banner

I recall that the first time the Emperor of Japan addressed his subjects on the radio was when announcing Japan's surrender to the Allies. He spoke such a formal, archaic, and ossified version of the Japanese language that the common people had difficulty understanding him.

The dexter side. Dexter. Because "left" is fancier if you say it in Norman.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:27 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


Can someone translate this into English?
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:28 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Thomas Woodcock, Garter

oh boy i am six years old
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:29 PM on May 6 [18 favorites]


Signed by "Woodcock" and "Dickinson"? Are we sure this isn't some sort of prank?
posted by yoink at 12:30 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I assure you Woodcock is always serious.
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


Yes, that's right Republicans, a custom whose strictures go back more than a millennium has done a better job adapting to societal evolution than you.
posted by dry white toast at 12:31 PM on May 6 [77 favorites]


A man who contracts a same-sex marriage may impale the arms of his husband with his own

But what if he's a bottom?
posted by Nelson at 12:33 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


The dexter side. Dexter. Because "left" is fancier if you say it in Norman.

I'd assume dexter means "right". Left would be "sinister" or something similar.
posted by kmz at 12:36 PM on May 6 [25 favorites]


I have no idea what any of that meant, but I found it nonetheless delightful and intriguing.

It was rather like reading about cricket.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:37 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Hell of a proposal line: "Darling, I want to impale your arms with mine!"
posted by yoink at 12:38 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Oh, heck, now I get it! "Ambidextrous"! Because no matter which side you use, it's like you're using your right hand!

Man, language is neat.
posted by KChasm at 12:38 PM on May 6 [34 favorites]




It was rather like reading about cricket.


I tried to watch cricket one year when the winter baseball jones got to be too much and it was entirely delightful in that fashion. Like watching a broadcast in Martian translated to English. I wish I had more time for it, honestly.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:39 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Oh, heck, now I get it! "Ambidextrous"! Because no matter which side you use, it's like you're using your right hand!

Yep. Anti-lefthand prejudice goes back a longgggggg ways.
posted by kmz at 12:39 PM on May 6 [16 favorites]


I recall that the first time the Emperor of Japan addressed his subjects on the radio was when announcing Japan's surrender to the Allies. He spoke such a formal, archaic, and ossified version of the Japanese language that the common people had difficulty understanding him.

Incidentally, that's kind of an interesting story.

Thus spake the emperor, regarding surrender vis-a-vis the atomic bombing: "However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable."
posted by clockzero at 12:42 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I wish this had pictures, because I don't know enough about coats of arms to know what you do and don't do. Also, my family crest is three leaves. That's so blah, I was hoping I could marry a guy with, like, a lion for a crest or something.
posted by xingcat at 12:45 PM on May 6


The dexter side. Dexter. Because "left" is fancier if you say it in Norman.

The use of "dexter" and "sinister" remains partially because it reduces the possibility of confusing your right for the coat of arms' right. They are specifically the latter.
posted by Etrigan at 12:45 PM on May 6 [19 favorites]


I wish I could just go get a degree in heraldry. That would be too much fun to study. Plus it's a great career path!
posted by janey47 at 12:46 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]




I'd assume dexter means "right". Left would be "sinister" or something similar.

Not in this context, as Etrigan implied. Think of the coat of arms like a mirror. Or maybe a stage.
posted by jedicus at 12:49 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Can someone translate this into English?

Dont we need someone to translate this from English?
posted by cacofonie at 12:49 PM on May 6 [12 favorites]


From the requesting a herald section ...."The best heraldic design is usually achieved if the petitioner gives his wishes in fairly general terms.."

This is going into all of my freelance art contracts.


I resisted the urge to tag this TheMostAnicentAndNobleHouseOfWhelk
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on May 6 [23 favorites]


Can someone translate this into English?

If my coat of arms is a drawing of a duck and my husband's is a drawing of a potato, then I can show off by combining (impaling) them with the duck on the right and the potato on the left. If I have a drawing of a squirrel that goes on top of the shield (the crest) and he has a drawing of a stapler, then you can tell our different coats of arms apart by 1) mine will have the squirrel on top and the duck on the right 2) his will have the stapler on top and the potato on the right.

In the case of a woman marrying a woman who had no brothers to inherit the family title and coat of arms, you have to put a tiny version of that inherited shield in the middle of your own.

I think.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 12:51 PM on May 6 [39 favorites]


A ruling of the Kings of Arms made on 6 November 1997 allows a married woman to bear her own arms alone differenced by a small escutcheon. That will continue to be the case but the addition of the mark of difference will forthwith be optional.


I would like Her Majesty's High Court of Chivalry to clarify if this amendment of the 1997 ruling for married women on the optionalization of small escutcheons applies to female-female marriages only or if it is a blow for feminism of wider scope.
posted by Bwithh at 12:52 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


In case you don't click jedicus's link above:

The reason for this is that dexter/sinister were used as terms for the positions of shields in military training before they were coat of arms. So it's the bearer of the shield's right but the viewer's left.

Like stage right and stage left and just as confusing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:53 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


In the case of a woman marrying a woman who had no brothers to inherit the family title and coat of arms, you have to put a tiny version of that inherited shield in the middle of your own.

That is the thing that is optional now, I think, but I can't tell if that's only for same-sex marriage women.
posted by Bwithh at 12:54 PM on May 6


A ruling of the Kings of Arms made on 6 November 1997 allows a married woman to bear her own arms alone differenced by a small escutcheon. That will continue to be the case but the addition of the mark of difference will forthwith be optional.
I would like Her Majesty's High Court of Chivalry to clarify if this amendment of the 1997 ruling for married women on the optionalization of small escutcheons applies to female-female marriages only or if it is a blow for feminism of wider scope.

It definitely reads as if a woman in an opposite-gender marriage may bear own arms without differencing!
(but yeah, clarification as to their intent would be nice.)
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:56 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


"We, Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy & Ulster King of Arms, do rule, ordain and decree as follows:"

Did Terry Pratchett write this?
posted by marienbad at 1:01 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


I wish I could just go get a degree in heraldry. That would be too much fun to study. Plus it's a great career path!

I will go on record here predicting that, in the future, Corporate Heraldry, based on arms originally derived from company logos, will indeed be a viable career.
posted by Naberius at 1:04 PM on May 6 [15 favorites]


Did Terry Pratchett write this?

Not unless he killed off Dragon King Of Arms, and he'd damn well better not have.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:09 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


If one person's arms are placed on one side of the new arms, and the other person's on the opposite, isn't that technically called a "party"? Woo, party!
posted by LionIndex at 1:13 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I had some slight dealings with York Herald a couple of years ago; he arranged a properly scrivened copy of some Letters Patent. Seemed a thoroughly nice gent and a rather charming experience overall, and the results were magnificent. If you ever need some really beautiful work done on a traditional or ceremonial document, I would recommend seeking assistance from the duty Herald - you can do it by email these days, though of course the College is a little old-fashioned and formal.
posted by Segundus at 1:14 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


Oh my god, this guy (linked off the Heraldry page because of his absurd shield) is so aristoBritish that I cannot even stand it.
posted by Etrigan at 1:15 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


I will go on record here predicting that, in the future, Corporate Heraldry, based on arms originally derived from company logos, will indeed be a viable career.

It shall be called fishbulbery.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:18 PM on May 6 [11 favorites]


...though of course the College is a little old-fashioned and formal.

In the same way that the Pope is "a little Catholic."
posted by mosk at 1:22 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


FEMME

(SINISTER)

Of course!
posted by rtha at 1:24 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I will go on record here predicting that, in the future, Corporate Heraldry, based on arms originally derived from company logos, will indeed be a viable career.

This would be super for when companies merged or there were acqusitions. Also phrases like Arches Or on a field of gules.
posted by pointystick at 1:25 PM on May 6 [11 favorites]


In the same way that the Pope is "a little Catholic."

The Pope? Not so much. A Pope? Yes, a little Catholic, indeed.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:33 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


> If my coat of arms is a drawing of a duck and my husband's is a drawing of a potato, then I can show off by combining (impaling) them

I am very disappointed that your link wasn't to an illustration of a ducktato.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:35 PM on May 6 [25 favorites]


I think I would understand this better with some images of the squirrel ductato and the stapler potatuck.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:40 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


The Wikipedia article on heraldry will make the meanings of some of the terminology clearer and will also suck you into a bottomless clicktrance from which you may never escape.

Oh my god it's awesome. Is there a make-your-own heraldry site which also gives the terminology? I would love to make my own.
posted by jeather at 1:44 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


This would be super for when companies merged or there were acqusitions.

The one for cable companies can be Comcast impaling the arms of Time Warner and the entire free Internet.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:45 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I am very disappointed that your link wasn't to an illustration of a ducktato.

Okay, fine.
posted by xingcat at 1:47 PM on May 6 [14 favorites]




Also phrases like Arches Or on a field of gules.

Ahem. "Gules, a double arch Or."
posted by jedicus at 1:54 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


I knew I'd get that wrong, jedicus ;)
I'm now wondering what company might have an animal logo that could be described as "rampant". Possibly a breakfast cereal.
posted by pointystick at 1:57 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I'm now wondering what company might have an animal logo that could be described as "rampant". Possibly a breakfast cereal.

Frosted Flakes: tiger rampant guardant.
posted by Etrigan at 2:03 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]




There's a lion passant on the now-obscure BBC coat of arms.

There are narwhal supporters on the Reddit coat of arms. I have a vague memory of a metafilter coat of arms in some thread on the gray but I can't find it.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:09 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]




I knew I'd get that wrong, jedicus ;)

Don't worry. I do this kind of thing for "fun" on the weekends.

I'm now wondering what company might have an animal logo that could be described as "rampant".

Peugeot is the only one that comes to mind. The Ferrari horse, for example, is salient, not rampant.

Frosted Flakes: tiger rampant guardant.

His closed left forepaw, absent tail, and completely atypical art style make him pretty hard to pass.
posted by jedicus at 2:10 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I am very disappointed that your link wasn't to an illustration of a ducktato.

The Canadian Heraldic Authority can probably do this for you. They come up with some crazy shit.
posted by Kabanos at 2:18 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


Anyone who says they haven't thought what heraldic animal they'd want on their coat of arms is lying.
posted by The Whelk at 2:24 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]




I had to do a paper on my family history when I was a kid, and I remember the section on the arms taking forever (technically, the arms were doubtless of the lords my peasant ancestor paid rent to). But I did get to use the phrase "sable and argent, a boar, counter-changed".
posted by Diablevert at 2:26 PM on May 6


"We, Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy & Ulster King of Arms, do rule, ordain and decree as follows:"

Garter Principal King of Arms
Clarenceux King of Arms
Norroy and Ulster King of Arms

The Garter title has existed since 1415, Clarenceaux since 1420 (or maybe 1334), and Norroy & Ulster tracing back to 1276, which explains some of the archaic goofiness. And if you think those titles are goofy, check out Bluemantle Pursuivant and Rouge Dragon Pursuivant.

Heraldry is basically what happens when you give a bunch of highly literate, rules-obsessed nerds power over something that appears to be really important but actually isn't.
posted by jedicus at 2:29 PM on May 6 [15 favorites]


the Colledge Of Arms

On a field, azure, the letter "d," misspelt
posted by RogerB at 2:31 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I love you forever, Wretch.

(Don't miss the awesome wiki images on Dimidation.)
posted by jeather at 2:35 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Heraldry Metafilter is basically what happens when you give a bunch of highly literate, rules-obsessed nerds power over something that appears to be really important but actually isn't.
posted by medusa at 2:37 PM on May 6 [16 favorites]


i was half disappointed by the fact that anyone can get a herald sheild in canada, and half loving the democracy of it. i kind of want to spend the 2k on getting one based on the theme of sodomitical moose.
posted by PinkMoose at 2:59 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]



I just added getting my own coat of arms to my bucket list. That Canadian heraldry rocks. I had no idea we could do this. It looks like so much fun.
posted by Jalliah at 3:30 PM on May 6


So, wait, what happens with the kids? The firstborn... child? son? gets the coat of arms upon death, right? If Fred has a duck on the one side and a potato on the other, and Jim has a potato on the one and a duck on the other, and Jim dies first, does the firstborn get a potato on the one and a duck on the other? And then what happens when Fred dies later? Does the secondborn get a duck on the one and a potato on the other? Or does the firstborn get that one too? Or does that one just get cast into oblivion? Or what?
posted by Flunkie at 3:37 PM on May 6


Pink!oose, just make sure you call it House Moosehead.
posted by The Whelk at 3:43 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I look forward to when society becomes progressive enough to form rules for heraldry for polyamorous triads (and larger collectives). Bonus points if they require the use of extra dimensions.
posted by NoraReed at 4:25 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I came up with a notional MeFi Coat of Arms here.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:34 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


So, wait, what happens with the kids? The firstborn... child? son? gets the coat of arms upon death, right?

No, all children get to use the arms. Technically, I think that there are marks of cadence for the various sons, but I don’t think they’re used any more. Daughters usually quarter their arms with those of their husband on marriage (unless, as noted, they nowadays choose to keep their own). There are adjustments and niceties as generations proceed, but direct descendants* of the person granted arms are themselves armigerous.

*Traditionally male descendants, quarterings aside; I’m not sure if that has changed so the children of an armigerous woman inherit her coat of arms if her spouse doesn’t have one, and I’m too lazy to check.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:47 PM on May 6


OK, but still, which coat of arms do they get? Duck and potato or potato and duck?
posted by Flunkie at 4:52 PM on May 6


Bonus points if they require the use of extra dimensions.
Penrosey azure and gules and vert and magenta, a klein bottle counterchanged
posted by NMcCoy at 4:54 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


Anyone who says they haven't thought what heraldic animal they'd want on their coat of arms is lying.

I remember having fun playing round inventing coats of arms with various interesting things on them when I was a kid, then my father went and got himself a grant of arms and I no longer had to wonder (a pegasus in case you’re curious).
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:00 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I saw this this morning and it made my inner medievalist squee with glee.

Also any mention of pursuivants and Kings of Arms in general.
posted by immlass at 5:06 PM on May 6


direct descendants* of the person granted arms are themselves armigerous.

At what point does this stop? I want to make the most smashed-together coat of arms ever.
posted by corb at 5:22 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


not a codpiece rampant on a field of amyls?
posted by bruce at 5:41 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


An interesting change in item 3 - women who chose to bear their own family's arms after marriage (instead of combining) used to have a differentiator (smaller escutcheon?) - but that is being changed. Quite interesting, thank you!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:44 PM on May 6


direct descendants* of the person granted arms are themselves armigerous.

At what point does this stop? I want to make the most smashed-together coat of arms ever.


Check out the 719 quarterings of the Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville family.
posted by limeonaire at 5:48 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Is there a site that does this? This seems like the most awesome thing ever.
posted by corb at 6:12 PM on May 6


My family coat of arms. My last name is one of the spelling variants.
posted by govtdrone at 6:32 PM on May 6


It's perfectly simple. If you're not getting your hair cut, you don't have to move your brother's clothes down to the lower peg. You simply collect his note before lunch, after you've done your scripture prep, when you've written your letter home, before rest, move your own clothes onto the lower peg, greet the visitors, and report to Mr. Viney that you've had your chit signed.
posted by mr.marx at 6:53 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


RogerB wrote:
the Colledge Of Arms
On a field, azure, the letter "d," misspelt
I think I know how to spell "colledge," pal.
posted by Songdog at 7:09 PM on May 6


Oh, hello Duke of Roxburghe created 1707, I see you and your coat of arms are already into pairs of naked dudes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:13 PM on May 6


Check out the 719 quarterings of the Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville family.

Uh, does the number of seeming repeats indicate anything about this guy's family tree, or do I suck at distinguishing heraldic crests?
posted by heyforfour at 7:21 PM on May 6


Not quite MeFi coat of arms, but I offered up this design in this earlier discussion about what a House MetaFilter banner would look like.
posted by Kabanos at 7:42 PM on May 6


Those dudes aren't naked, eyebrows, they're wearing green speedos or hula skirts or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 PM on May 6


The LBGT rights related coat of arms of John Bercow MP (Conservative), the current Speaker of the House of Commons
posted by Bwithh at 2:50 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Those dudes aren't naked, eyebrows, they're wearing green speedos or hula skirts or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 PM on May 6 [+] [!]



Those are wild men of the woods, mythical medieval figures similar to satyrs or fauns and found in coats of arms all over Europe
posted by Bwithh at 2:59 AM on May 7


Those are wild men of the woods, mythical medieval figures similar to satyrs or fauns and found in coats of arms all over Europe

Yeah, but they're not naked, was my point. Coats of arms all over Europe don't have visible dongs on them.

Although if they did it would seem strangely fitting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:47 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


The Baronet Wang-Rippington-Smythe would disagree.

It's pronounced "Wurrz."
posted by Etrigan at 5:59 AM on May 7


A ruling of the Kings of Arms made on 6 November 1997 allows a married woman to bear her own arms alone differenced by a small escutcheon. That will continue to be the case but the addition of the mark of difference will forthwith be optional.

Before: Rather than bearing a differenced version of her spouse's arms, a married woman could bear her own arms, with her spouse's arms in an escutcheon.

Now: Rather than bearing a differenced version of her spouse's arms, a married woman could bear her own arms, optionally with her spouse's arms in an escutcheon.

This applies regardless of the spouse.

The question is could two married women bear differenced versions of the other's arms -- that is, they follow the old version of married women, who bore a differenced version of their husband's arms. (I say husband because in the old version, there were no same-sex marriages. )
posted by eriko at 7:55 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I wish this had pictures, because I don't know enough about coats of arms to know what you do and don't do. Also, my family crest is three leaves. That's so blah, I was hoping I could marry a guy with, like, a lion for a crest or something.

Well, the first thing you don't do is simply assume arms. They're inherited and/or granted from the Crown.

Second, the crest is the bit that goes above the shield; generally helms for nobility.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:46 AM on May 7


For the paltry sum of $199.00 I can write your name in my prestigeous registry, assign your name to a star in my stardust registry, assing you a parcel of the moon (with full mineral rights) in my landlord registry. Completely backed by law, in my country one can start a registry for anything.

I have also have some extremely promising stocks at $2.99 per stock, but you better hurry before other catch wind of the next bubble.

Lastly, I have a bridge in San Francisco Bay area ...
posted by elpapacito at 10:53 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Oh my god it's awesome. Is there a make-your-own heraldry site which also gives the terminology? I would love to make my own.

There are several. I think the best is heraldry.py or something--uses Python as the programming language. There used to be several listed at the bottom of the wiki entry.

My family coat of arms. My last name is one of the spelling variants.

There is no such thing as a family coat of arms. One person, one coat. Anyone else (e.g. brothers, sisters, whatever) using the same coat of arms must bear a difference on them. For example, this is why the Prince of Wales uses his mother's coat of arms, with a white label of three points for difference.

So unless you're a direct-line descendant--as in The Heir Of The Family--sorry, no, you do not have a coat of arms.

Canadian heraldry

It's not actually that easy to get, and the yes/no decision is made by the Chief Herald of Canada (Cathy Sabourin I think), no appeal, nothing. Certain people are automatically entitled to arms; members/companions/officers of the Order of Canada, Prime Minister (I think; might only be after retirement), Speaker, Governor General, Lieutenants General, etc. I believe all prime ministers include a canton argent a maple leaf gules and it is considered a distinguishing and restricted armorial element by the CHA.

The point is that arms are a distinction, an honour, and not for every Jane Schmoe. If you look through Canada's register of arms (somewhere on the GG's site), you'll see a lot of names you'd expect--Asper, Rogers, Eaton (I think). People who have, for good or ill, made a contribution to society.

Also heraldry is far from a dead art (obviously). And corporate branding is the new form of heraldry, we just haven't figured out a language for describing them universally yet. Blazon, the archaic Normanized English used to describe arms, is universal, works within a strict set of rules, and in fact is the definitive award of arms; the visual depiction is irrelevant, what you are granted is the description of your arms.

For MeFi, I'd say something like azure, an equilateral cross Or. (Blue shield with a golden + in the middle). Or azure, a plate of beans proper (blue shield with a plate of beans, coloured in their proper colour, not a defined one. This was actually a problem with the Canadian coat of arms, which say in base three maple leaves proper. Early heralds interpreted that as green (which is accurate), but for some time now they have been coloured red to fit in with all the other Canadian governmental symbolism.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:48 AM on May 7


Check out the 719 quarterings of the Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville family.

That was done more as a stunt than as any real heraldic device, as in practice it would be impossible to recognize (or indeed reproduce; the blazon for that one has got to be a mile long, unless it's like quarterly in 719, the arms of Mucklemore, the arms of Savoy, etc etc etc)--which is the whole point of heraldry.

And yes, the repeating escutcheons within the Stowe Armorial mean exactly what you think they mean.

posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:53 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Claire Boudreau, sorry, not Cathy Sabourin as I said above.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:59 AM on May 7


Is there a make-your-own heraldry site which also gives the terminology?

I actually went searching for one that would take the symbolism into account, and so far all I've found is My Blazon. Rather than being all "pick what color you want and pick the pictures you want on it", letting people just decorate at whim without taking symbolism into account, it actually asks you for three values you consider important, and then generates the design based on that list and existing symbolism.

you do have to sign in via Facebook to keep it (which i'm not thrilled about), but if you do go all the way through and get the Facebook account you can use that art as something to put on, like, coffee cups and stuff on Cafepress or what-not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on May 7


Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville was judged bankrupt in 1847 for personal debts of a million pounds. As a share of GDP, thats the equivalent today of someone owing £2.44 billion - or just over $4.4bn.
posted by cromagnon at 1:07 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


The question of symbolism in heraldry is a bit of a sticky issue, though. Some symbols have specific meanings--crowns, lions in the context of England, crosses. But while some charges on a particular coat may have specific symbolic meaning for that family (e.g. sheaves of wheat, because your family came from farmers), it doesn't necessarily follow that there are hard and fast rules of symbolism for all charges. Usually they're pretty specific to the person or organization being represented.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:00 PM on May 7


feckless fecal fear mongering: There is no such thing as a family coat of arms. One person, one coat. Anyone else (e.g. brothers, sisters, whatever) using the same coat of arms must bear a difference on them. For example, this is why the Prince of Wales uses his mother's coat of arms, with a white label of three points for difference.

So unless you're a direct-line descendant--as in The Heir Of The Family--sorry, no, you do not have a coat of arms.


You’re quite right that arms are not familial in the sense that they belong to a name (e.g. the “Smith” coat of arms), but in England and Wales they they don’t just pass simply to a single male heir via primogeniture:
The arms of a man pass equally to all his legitimate children, irrespective of their order of birth.

Cadency marks may be used to identify the arms of brothers…
Note the marks of cadence are a “may” not a “must.”
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:49 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I mean, books as charges tend to denote learning or education.

But then you have what's known as 'canting' arms; coats of arms that are a visual pun. So someone with 'book' in their name could easily put a book on their arms as a joke. (That all being said, there are patterns; ecclesiastical heraldry tends to lran heavily towards crosses and books and crooks and so on, all of which have specific symbolism in their context.)

Quinbus, I may have oversimplified, but according to the actual College (via email a few years ago when I was looking up the history of my arms, which unfortunately are only contained in a source they don't consider authoritative, even though I can prove descent) they do require cadency/differences on arms used by everyone who is not the actual armiger. Canada has cadency marks for up to the 8th child, different ones for male and female children (female cadency marks are, AFAIK unique to Canada). Grants of arms in Canada, if there are spouses or children involved, include words to the effect of 'with differences granted to Daughter X and Son Y.'

I don't know how sticky the CHA is about the requirements of cadency, but you'll notice in most if not all grants in the public register will include "with differences for XYZ."

The College, in London, like I said: over an email correspondence with--fuck it, one of the Pursuivants, can't remember which one--he was pretty clear about 'one person, one coat.' Full stop. And it isn't only male primogeniture, of course; there are heraldic heiresses as well.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:12 PM on May 7


When it comes to it I'm going to ask feckless to consult on the heraldry for the Most Noble And Anicent House Of Whelk.
posted by The Whelk at 5:28 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Well first you need to be really famous for something, then you need to live in Canada, the UK, or South Africa, and hope.

But off the top of my head I'd blazon something like (I've been drinking wine, my syntax may be fucked up):

sable, two pencils proper in saltire, overall a whelk proper

You're on your own for supporters, compartment, and crest. And motto. Some translation of 'eat your enemies' seems appropriate.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:55 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc

We gladly feast on those who would subdue us
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 PM on May 7


My best effort at FFFM's suggestion.

If it weren't past my bedtime I'd try quartering it and adding more stuff.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:25 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering, at the risk of beating this to death, you are quite correct about the letter of the law, and the College of Arms is always likely to err on the side of strict interpretation when asked for an opinion. But I have always heard that actual practice has been somewhat looser, e.g.:
"No person may lawfully have the same coat of arms as another person in the same heraldic jurisdiction although in England the bearing of identical arms without differencing marks by descendants from a common armigerous ancestor has been widespread and tolerated by the College of Arms.”
Which comes from Wikipedia (because it was easy to find and link to), but I know I have read similar statements elsewhere.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:47 PM on May 7


Forget sleep, reading obscure trivia about heraldry is more fun. Also I made a better Metafilter coat of arms.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:10 PM on May 7


Grants of arms in Canada, if there are spouses or children involved, include words to the effect of 'with differences granted to Daughter X and Son Y.'

This piqued my interest, so I went and looked at the grant of arms itself, which I haven’t done for years, to see what it said. It mentions my mother as she is also granted arms, but not my brother or me (we were both adults at the time). It just says, "to be borne and used for ever hereafter… by his descendants with due and proper differences...” and “by her descendants quarterly with their own paternal arms with due and proper differences...” So it looks like the CHA is more specific than the College of Arms.

Maybe the underlying assumption is that the armigerous marry each other so, what with quartering and impaling/pretense and so on, you don’t expect the lack of marks of cadency, even if they should technically be used, to cause too much confusion.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 12:19 AM on May 8


Terry Pratchett has the best coat of arms. There's an ankh and a morepork (an owl), and his motto is Moli Timere Messorem.

Yes, that's right, Terry Pratchett's official motto is Don't fear the reaper.
posted by Paragon at 8:17 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


they do require cadency/differences on arms used by everyone who is not the actual armiger.

So would those differenced arms then be passed on with more differences?
posted by corb at 10:18 PM on May 8


Essentially yes kind of. Prince Charles, for example, uses the Royal Arms with a label of three points for difference. Prince William uses the same arms, except with a red scallop shell on the middle point of the label, a reference to his mother's arms. I can't remember what Harry uses.

But yeah basically you inherit the differenced arms (unless you are heir to the actual armiger, in which case you just use theirs on their death), which over time will change or disappear due to marriages, deaths, lack of heirs, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:41 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


One can conceivably show differenced arms ad infinitum to demonstrate all one's illustrious forebears. Perhaps the most extravagant example is the Stowe armorial (719 quarterings).
posted by dhens at 11:24 AM on May 28


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